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Posted on September 5, 2019 at 5:57 PM by Christina St. Pierre
FROM THE TOWN ADMINISTRATORS DESK
September 5, 2019
It is time to catch up on a number of projects and efforts that are underway.
Road Paving and Complete Street Intersection Improvements: Paving bids are due next week. Roads targeted for repaving this fall include Mosses Hill and, if pricing is favorable, Rockwood Heights. We also included in the paving bids the four complete street projects.
These four projects received no bids earlier this year when we sought pricing on the projects. We received permission to extend the deadline for expending the grant funds we received for the projects and are hoping to get prices this time around since we have paired it with the larger street paving work. Final decisions on the complete street intersection designs and work will be made by the Selectmen once we have actual bids on the baseline layouts. It is unlikely we have sufficient funds to do all four complete street projects. The Washington/See/Summer Streets intersection may be the one that goes forward at this time given funding limitations and community acceptance.
Sewer Pipe Lining: The extensive work over the last five years to reduce the amount of unwanted rain and ground water into our sewer pipes is winding down with the last large project being the re-lining of the “harbor loop”. This sewer pipe along the edge of the inner harbor, servicing homes along Central Street and Ashland Avenue, experiences seawater surge every high tide. The new lining will eliminate this saltwater intrusion. The work is the last on the list of projects mandated by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection to upgrade our sewer collection system. All told, we have eliminated tens of thousands of gallons of unwanted water freeing up significant capacity at our waste water treatment plant.
Water Pipe Replacement work: A new contract will be executed soon for the replacement of undersized water lines on Magnolia Avenue, Raymond Street and the remaining half of Ocean Street. This $1.5 million project will enhance flows and provide better water service to the eastern end of town, our most problematic section of town. The work will take place this fall. Impacted residents will be receiving more details as we get closer to a construction start date.
Central Street Dam and the Central (Mill) Pond: Engineering work continues on the proposed dam and culvert replacement project. We are entering the permitting phase which will take the better part of a year to complete as both state and federal agencies are involved. Efforts to restore the stream and seawalls of the old Mill Pond have slowed as we were not awarded grant funds to begin the next phase of additional design work and permitting. However, we have another opportunity to submit another grant proposal that will enable us to continue. We hope to hear about renewed funding by the end of the year.
Memorial School Construction: Work continues on schedule for this large construction project. With school now in session there is more awareness of the project. Managing a major work site on the same grounds of a functioning school poses many challenges but so far so good – a credit to the contractor and school administration/staff.
As these updates show, we continue to pursue an aggressive effort to improve our aging infrastructure. If you have questions please feel free to contact me or follow additional updates on the Town’s web site.
Without these two local option laws, towns are required to use the statutory speed limits established by state law (20 mph school zones; 30 mph for thickly settled areas; 45 mph for rural roads) or, after completing an engineering study that identifies the 85th percentile speed, petition the state for a special speed regulation that differs from the statutory speeds. Recently the state has clarified how these existing laws interface with the new local option laws.
The Town has undertaken engineering studies on a handful of roads over the past few decades and has some regulatory speed limits on the books. Where these are higher than the across the board 25 mph designation, a request to rescind the special regulation must be made to the state.
After Town Meeting approval of the two local option speed limit laws, the Selectmen moved forward with establishing the lower speed limits. The recommendations from the Bike and Pedestrian Committee and the Downtown Improvement Committee were followed, creating a town-wide speed limit of 25 mph for all roads unless otherwise posted and creating a safety zone that extends out from the train station in a one mile radius.
In light of clarification from the state and from driver feedback, it has become evident that additional fine-tuning of these new speed limits is needed. For example, the outer ends of School Street and Pine Street do not qualify as “thickly settled” (defined by the statutes as a house every 200 feet). 25 mph is likely too low of a speed for these sections of roadway. And speed zones are designed for certain adjacent land uses. Specifically, the state guidelines note that safety zones are “intended to be used in areas where vulnerable road users are likely to be present, such as parks and playgrounds, senior citizen housing and centers, hospitals or other medical facilities, high schools and higher education centers, and daycare facilities.” 20 mph school zones should be used around elementary schools.
Thus, the Board of Selectmen are asking that the two committees, police and fire personnel, staff from the Department of Public Works and interested citizens convene in a public working session to review our current speed postings in light of these additional details and present a new set of recommendations to the Selectmen. The Board will hold a public hearing to receive the recommendations, take public comment, and make final decisions on refining the posting of speed limits in town. These efforts will be undertaken over the next couple of months.
Posted on August 28, 2019 at 4:07 PM by Christina St. Pierre
Bolstering our Administrative Capacity
By Gregory T. Federspiel
The number of staff in Town Hall has been virtually unchanged for decades. The total number of full-time equivalents (FTE’s) working for the town has actually decreased over the last ten years, even with the addition of a town planner and a new “floater” for the Fire Department, dropping from a high of 78 FTE’s down to 71. The Selectmen’s/Town Administrator’s Office shrunk by a half time position when building permit activity was moved over to the Assessor’s Office.
Posted on August 22, 2019 at 10:00 AM by Elizabeth Dukes